Good things really do come in small packages, especially when it comes to pocket cruisers. These pint-sized, passage-making powerboats subscribe to the “keep it simple, stupid” mindset. Their smaller size means less maintenance and upkeep when compared to larger cruising powerboats, and their lower price point makes them accessible to folks who might not otherwise be able to afford a cruising vessel.
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In this month’s installment of Expert’s Choice we go back to the ’80s, when bad hair, synthesized music, and yuppies were things. Luckily, boats were generally unaffected by our poor pop culture choices of the time. The three ’80s-era pocket cruisers presented here were all cult classics in their day and today still have a robust following on the used market. The toughest decision you’ll have to make is where you’ll go cruising.
1987 Albin 27 Family Cruiser
The Albin 27 took on several different shapes over the years it was in production, but it’s the aft-cabin Family Cruiser (FC) version that folks interested in cruising will want to keep an eye out for. The efficient inboard diesel and sturdy hull make it a trustworthy partner, and the unique indoor/outdoor deck layout is perfect for long, relaxing days on the water. This 1987 vintage Albin 27 has a lot of nice upgrades and should fits many budgets, with a current asking price of under $20,000.
- Living accommodations include a portside galley with two-burner propane stove, a sink, and an icebox.
- Offset V-berth, used as a dinette or as a bed with the table lowered.
- Lots more room for stowing gear below than you’d expect on a boat this size.
- Enclosed head/shower with pressurized hot water in the accommodations forward.
- Aft cabin can be used to sleep a guest couple, though most folks us it for stowing cruising gear.
- A bimini top covers the open space between the pilothouse and the aft cabin.
- 90-horsepower Nissan LD28 diesel inboard with 1,600 hours, good for cruising around 10 knots efficiently.
- Electronics include a GPS, VHF radio, depthsounder, and radar.
1981 Nordic Tug 26
The first time we saw a Nordic Tug 26 roll into an anchorage we fell in love instantly. Its shippy and robust good looks made us dream of trips up and down the Intracoastal Waterway to Florida and back. When the owner gave us a tour of the inside, it had everything a cruising couple might need: a galley, full dinette, forward V-berth sleeping quarters, a comfy inside helm station, and a spacious aft cockpit for lounging and watching the world go by at anchor. It warmed our hearts, and maybe this 1981 model will warm yours, too.
- Single 58-horsepower Perkins 4-154 diesel inboard, with 1,090 hours on the clock. These engines have been known to go well into the mid 2,000-hour range before requiring overhaul work.
- Top speed is around eight knots on a good day, though most folks will cruise around six knots.
- Tankage includes 70 gallons for fuel and 50 gallons for water.
- Galley is outfitted with a pressurized diesel range/hot top, which is also great for use as a heat source in the shoulder seasons.
- Basic electronics, including a VHF radio, depthsounder, and portable GPS.
- Enclosed head/shower compartment below with a manual marine head, shower, and sink. Hot water via electric heater in the mechanical space.
- Dinette in the main saloon can be converted into a sleeping berth by lowering the table.
- Plenty of room on the cabin top for stowing adventure gear like kayaks or stand-up paddleboards.
1988 Eagle 32 Pilothouse Trawler
In the past, Eagle built some of the most capable inshore/coastal cruising tugs on the market. They’re still so popular, in fact, that finding them on the used market can be a challenge. This primarily freshwater-kept model looks just about in turn-key condition. What’s most amazing about the Eagle 32 is the amount of room and accommodations below for a boat this size.
- 135-horsepower Ford Lehman diesel with 2,270 hours. Expect to cruise this ultra-efficient hull around eight knots.
- Kohler 5.5-kilowatt generator, powering a reverse-cycle air conditioning system.
- A plethora of electronics, including a Raymarine C125 touchscreen GPS, Robertson autopilot, Raymarine VHF radio, and Raymarine depthsounder.
- Tankage includes 150 gallons for fuel, 180 gallons for water, and a 15-gallon holding tank.
- Boat has been run in fresh water for most of its life (17 years in Lake Michigan and seven in Lake Kentucky).
- Recent bottom paint job in December 2016.
The Eagle 32 is laid out on three levels. The aft level is the main saloon, which has two almost full-length settees with a dining table set between them, a galley with propane oven/stove, sink, and icebox, and lots of stowage cabinetry.
The pilothouse level is three steps up from the saloon and houses the lower helm (there is an upper helm station also), companion seating, and twin port and starboard doors that lead out to the side decks.
Three steps forward and down is the main stateroom, a V-berth affair with plenty of stowage room for clothes and gear, and an enclosed head/shower. Taking a look through the photos we were impressed at how well-maintained this boat appears, from the brightwork down to the engine room.
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